As I wrote the title of this post, I felt a little bad, but not nearly bad enough to discontinue putting these serious thoughts on paper, so to speak, on this overcast, rather gloomy Sunday morning in California. Not two days ago, I was down on the lower half of our property, letting our juvenile pups run around and get some fresh air. As we walked towards the fence that borders the street, I saw a red 4×4 utility vehicle with my older female neighbor, Patty, driving, their elderly golden retriever Tommy on the middle seat and Mark sitting shotgun. Mark, who is riddled with devastating bone cancer, had his old flannel shirt on, a smile on his face, and a three-foot sprayer wand in his hand. As the threesome cruised along their curbline, Mark vigorously sprayed commercial-grade herbicide from his lethal contraption, as he has probably done multiple times a year for the whole of his life. I immediately had several thoughts flood my mind – ‘Holy shit, that is disgusting!’, ‘Where are the dogs?’, ‘Are we downwind?’, and ‘I hope that shit doesn’t get on any of us or our property’. Thankfully, he disarmed himself as they approached and they pulled over to chat for a moment. Tommy and our pups played for about five minutes, Mark gave me the regular dreary update about his health status (just finished more chemo, feeling pretty terrible, but hanging in there), and I enjoyed a couple minutes with the two very sweet, but sadly clueless, neighbors in my life.
It breaks my heart that there isn’t an easier way to tell those you care for about things that matter or impact them. Case in point – I want to scream from my rooftop to Mark’s that the chemicals he is using are poisonous, not only to him and his family but also to his poor dog, the deer who eat our grass, the rabbits who run through our open fields, and our suffering honeybees who pollinate our flowering hillsides in spring. I also want to tell Mark about all of the recent court cases involving cancer patients winning their suits against Monsanto/Bayer, in which a judge determined the plaintiff’s cancer was caused by their exposure to the noxious product RoundUp. Although it is sadly too late in Mark’s case, because he almost certainly cannot cure himself of his brutally aggressive disease, it pains me to think of someone ignorantly exposing themselves and those around them to something that is harmful, to say the least. I also do not want that stuff anywhere near myself, Hugo, the dogs, or any of the other lovely creatures out there.
Sometimes there is a part of me that just wants to share what I know with those around me, regardless of how they interpret or digest it. And that’s not to say I know a lot but I am conscious of what I use in my home, on my body and in my small world on our three-acre plot of earth. That is all I have control over in this world so I make every effort to make smart, healthy and earth-conscious decisions wherever I can. Because of my knowledge and consciousness, I want to help others, which in turn helps the rest of the world. I wish I could just email them and tell them not to use certain products, with a detailed explanation as to why, but unfortunately, a lot of people (Mark and Patty included) would not only look at me sideways but they would also retort with ten reasons why spraying is better (cheaper and faster than manual labor, kills all of the weeds for the whole year, etc.). I know the reasons because I have heard them before and when I do hear them, that is usually when I stop talking because clearly the battle isn’t worth having. Especially between two sets of neighbors, one of which is fighting for their life, with an herbicide sprayer in hand.